Well, the Shepp disc just ended. I don’t really want to listen to any of the other things I brought with me, not right now anyway, so I’m listening to Miles Davis’ The Complete Live at the Plugged Nickel 1965, which is on my hard drive in MP3 format. (Yes, I bought it.)
I prefer boxes like the Plugged Nickel set, which documents two nights of performances, every note played on each night, two boxes which collate, say, “The Complete Blue Note Recordings Of Ike Quebec.” (Note: Mosaic has done a couple of Ike Quebec boxes, but not a “Complete Blue Note Recordings.” There’s probably just too damn many of ’em to put in one spot. I love that Mosaic exists, even if I can’t afford as many of their boxes as I’d like.) There’s a belief I can’t shake – artists put albums together the way they do for a reason, and to yank those tracks out of context and lump them together with a bunch of other tracks, usually shuffling them into chronological order, is a commercial decision and not an artistic one, and I don’t like it. The counter-argument, of course, is that by listening to a musician’s work chronologically, you can chart their progress. But chart it against what? Oh, he was able to hit that note on Disc Six that he missed on Disc Three. Sorry, that’s not as thrilling to me as hearing the tracks on, say, John Coltrane’s Crescent (which is juggled around on the eight-CD box of “Classic Quartet Studio Recordings” from Impulse!) leading perfectly into one another exactly the way Coltrane wanted them to.
This is why I don’t own as many boxes as some other critics. I’d rather listen to individual albums, and hear what the artist wanted me to hear.